Memorial Day

by Mike Hemming

A shined boot measures the distance, and a small flag is stuck into the ground. The flag waves in the evening breeze in front of a small gray stone. The stone that will be visited the next day by one or many. An old sailor will come, to remember a shipmate, long gone from land and sea. But his memories linger like the sad smoke of rifle salutes. The memories will bring forth smiles and tears.

A son will bring his son to remind him of the sacrifice made by granddad to save a world gone mad by those who would enslave it. An older brother will be there to honor a fallen sibling. A mother and sister will remember at a stone that honors those men whose graves are in the deep cold sea. A wife will stand quietly for a time at a stone and as she turns to leave, a single tear will appear and course down her cheek to fall on sacred ground.

Men will come to honor men that they do not know except for knowing their sacrifice. Men that sailed the seas in ships like theirs. Men that gave all, men that gave limbs or sanity to protect their country. Men that did not return to loved ones and to complete their lives among us as they could have.

Men will honor and remember men that lie in a mass grave with one small stone listing the names. Men that know of things done by them in secret and stealth not spoken aloud even today. Men that gave all in wars hot and cold in our history. Men that died in ones and twos or the entire crew on or in the sea.

The little flag waving bravely in the evening breeze marks the place where men that did their duty rest forever. Tomorrow gun salutes will be fired, flags will be flown at half-mast, taps will be played, right hands will snap into stiff salutes one more time and tears will fall.

But most important those that come to the flag-marked stones will say,

We did not and will not forget you.